Washington, July 6 (ANI): Australian scientists have conducted a study sequencing the genome of the staghorn coral Acropora millepora, which is a major component of the Great Barrier Reef and coral reefs worldwide.
Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the Australian Genome Research Facility (AGRF) collaborated to analyse the genetic complexity of the corals.
According to them, corals may look like simple animals, but their DNA is surprisingly complex. In fact, corals have about the same number of genes as humans and many of them are remarkably like ours.
"This is a first for Australian science. Here we show that Australia can unlock the genetic potential of its own unique fauna and flora for the national benefit," said project coordinator Kirby Siemering from the AGRF.
The coral genome, comprising 28 chromosomes, is amongst the first animal genomes in the world to be sequenced entirely using Illumina sequencing technology.
"The Pacific coral, Acropora millepora, is already the best-characterised coral at the molecular level and has yielded important insights into the evolution of all animals," said Professor David Miller of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) and James Cook University.
Researchers believe that the genome sequence will trigger major advances in the understanding of many aspects of coral biology.
It will also help understand the corals' responses to climate change, ocean acidification, pollution and disease. (ANI)
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